Running Back U? Cajun Program Produces Stars

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By Bruce Brown

It took 88 years of playing football for someone to gain 1,000 yards rushing wearing an SLI, USL or UL Lafayette uniform, and a decade and a half until it was done again, but that pace has picked up.

Quarterback Brian Mitchell broke the ice with 1,311 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior in 1989, leaving with school records for rushing yards (3,335), total offense (8,782), touchdowns (47) and scoring (286 points).

Until his assault on the record books, the best previous rushing campaign in the modern era was Charles Copes with 837 in 1952.

And it would be 16 years before anyone cracked that barrier again, as Tyrell Fenroy had 1,053 as a freshman in 2005 and followed that with 1,197, 1,021 and 1,375 to become just the seventh runner in NCAA history with four 1,000-yard seasons.

Fenroy’s career 4,646 total became the new goal to shoot for and ushered in a new era at the school.

Is UL becoming Running Back U? It’s not quite Tailback U, like Southern Cal in the 1960’s and 70’s, but times are changing.

And recent additions indicate that change may continue.

Twice while Fenroy was trampling foes, he had explosive help from quarterback – now Cajun receivers coach – Michael Desormeaux. Desormeaux ran for 1,141 yards in 2007 and 1,035 in 2008, and is the No. 5 all-time rusher at UL with 2,843.

Standing at No. 4 with 3,330 and 44 scores is Alonzo Harris (700. 881, 942 and 807 from 2011-14), who helped lead the Cajuns to four straight New Orleans Bowl titles.

Just ahead at No. 3 with 3,335 is Mitchell, who became a kick return ace in a long NFL career and is in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Current Cajun senior Elijah McGuire has two 1,000-yard seasons in the books and is closing in on Fenroy with 3,702 through an Oct. 1 loss at New Mexico State.

McGuire was Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year with 863 yards in 2013, Player of the Year with 1,264 and 14 scores in 2014 and battled through injuries for 1,058 and 13 last year.

Again battling injuries, McGuire had 517 yards through 5 games this fall and was 944 behind Fenroy.

While McGuire has set the new standard, the program has two area stars waiting in the wings.

Cecilia High product Raymond Calais Jr. is using his speed as a kick returner and in spot duty as he awaits his turn to shine.

Calais, who led Cecilia to the Class 4A state track title last spring, finished his prep career with a staggering 6,197 yards rushing and 73 touchdowns. As a senior, he had 2,602 yards and 31 scores.

Most agree he can be special at the college level.

The same is expected of another Elijah – Erath High senior Elijah Mitchell, a tall, gliding back who has committed to play for the Cajuns.

Mitchell ran 33 times for 334 yards and 6 scores in a 55-36 win over Berwick, giving him 5,093 yards and 66 touchdowns midway through his senior year,

UL once earned a reputation as Defensive Back U, led by the late Orlando Thomas as well as Charles Tillman, Todd Scott, Damon Mason, Brad Franklin, Ike Taylor, CC Brown, Michael Adams, Bill Bentley and Melvin White.

Now, with Elijah McGuire chasing Tyrell Fenroy, Raymond Calais waiting his turn and Elijah Mitchell primed to shine, Running Back U might fit.

UL Career Rushing Leaders

Tyrell Fenroy

Year Att Yards Avg TD

2005 179 1,053 5.9 12

2006 223 1,197 5.4 10

2007 180 1,021 5.7 7

2008 226 1,375 6.1 19

TOTALS 808 4,646 5.8 48

Elijah McGuire

Year Att Yards Avg TD

2013 103 863 8.4 8

2014 166 1,264 7.6 14

2015 210 1,058 5.0 13

2016* 100 517 5.2 3

TOTALS* 579 3,702 6.4 38

– Through 10-1-16

 

Brian Mitchell**

Year Att Yards Avg TD

1986 111 514 4.6 4

1987 150 767 5.1 9

1988 180 743 4.1 15

1989 237 1,311 5.5 19

TOTALS 678 3,335 4.9 47

 

Alonzo Harris

Year Att Yards Avg TD

2011 163 700 4.3 8

2012 170 881 5.2 10

2013 199 942 4.7 14

2014 172 807 4.7 12

TOTALS 704 3,330 4.7 44

 

Michael Desormeaux**

Year Att Yards Avg TD

2005 87 487 5.6 3

2006 24 180 7.5 1

2007 188 1,141 6.1 7

2008 144 1,035 7.2 5

TOTALS 443 2,843 6.4 16

** – Quarterback

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